Department of Environmental Conservation

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From the Winter 2014 Conservationist for Kids

cat carrying a mouse in its mouth

Coexising with Wildlife

By Gina Jack

Coexisting with Wildlife

To coexist is to live in harmony with each other. We can coexist with wildlife and avoid conflicts by learning about the animals that live near our homes. When we understand their needs, we can avoid creating situations where people and wildlife are in conflict with each other.

Animal Safety
dog with porqupine quills in its muzzle
Dog with quills in their muzzle

The best way to keep pets safe from wildlife, and to keep wildlife safe from pets, is to know what kinds of wildlife are around and to keep pets under control. Dogs that encounter porcupines sometimes find themselves with a painful mouthful of quills-not to mention the effects on the porcupine! If skunks feel threatened, they may defend themselves by spraying a strong-smelling oily substance to fend off danger. This leaves both dog and owner with a stinky reminder to stay away. It is always a good idea to keep pets leashed, fenced or indoors.

There are more than 60 million pet cats in the United States. Studies have shown that housecats that roam outdoors are responsible for killing all kinds of small animals, including birds, mice and even salamanders. Nationwide, pet and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of animals each year.